George Santos
George Santos

WASHINGTON: Indic­ted Republican George Santos’ brief career in the US House of Represen­tatives came to an end on Friday, when fellow lawmakers voted to expel him over criminal corruption charges and accusations of misspending campaign money.

The House voted 311-114 to immediately remove the controversial freshman lawmaker, above the two-thirds majority required to oust one of its own.

Embattled by revelations of lies about his past and a federal criminal indictment, Santos, 35, became only the sixth member to be expelled from the House. He was the first to be kicked out without having fought for the Confederacy or being convicted of a crime.

Following the vote, there was scattered applause in the House chamber.

As he walked out of the Capitol, surrounded by journalists, Santos said, “You know what? As unofficially already no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer a single question from you guys.” “To hell with this place,” he said, according to multiple media reports.

The door on Santos’ House office was closed, but the plaque bearing his name remained on Friday, shortly after the vote. A small bouquet of flowers lay on the floor outside.

New York state Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, now has 10 days to call a special election for the seat. The election must take place 70 to 80 days from that proclamation.

Shortly before the vote, House Speaker Mike Joh­nson told his fellow Republicans that he would oppose the expulsion, but that did not sway enough in the party to go along.

Some lawmakers had expressed concerns that booting Santos from office could set a precedent for abusing lawmakers’ power of expulsion. His expulsion also reduces Republicans’ already slim majority to a 221-213 majority. His district, which includes parts of New York City and Long Island, is seen as competitive.

Santos has been mired in controversy since his November 2022 election. He has admitted fabricating much of his biography, and federal prosecutors accuse him of laundering campaign funds and defrauding donors. Santos has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

He survived a previous expulsion attempt in early November, when 182 of his fellow Repub­licans and 31 Democrats voted against his removal on the grounds that his criminal case should be resolved first.

But a subsequent, scathing House Ethics Committee report on Santos’ behavior eroded what support he had. Only 112 of 222 House Repu­blicans voted to keep him in office this time around. Two Democrats voted against expulsion.

“George Santos’ lies were designed to defraud and deceive the voters in order for him to be elected, unlike other public corruption cases,” Represen­tative Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat who is a former federal prosecutor, told reporters shortly before the vote.

A bipartisan congressional investigation last month found that Santos charged almost $4,000 for spa treatments, including Botox, to his congressional campaign account.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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